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Blood from a stone

Blood from a stone

September 1, 2016

Vol 42 • No 52

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'Million-dollar Thursday'

Ever bounced a check? Pray you don't end up in Sherwood District Court, where a lawsuit says misdemeanor hot check defendants are hounded to the edge of ruin, repeatedly jailed and forced to pay thousands on original checks of less than $100.

Poz Pollyanna

A Q&A with Charles Sanchez.

Eldridge talks LGBTQ issues

Senate hopeful appears at Sway.

KABF celebrates with a Birthday Bash

Also, Sounds in the Stacks at the Esther D. Nixon Library, the Hot Springs Jazz Festival, KUHS Birthday Fundraiser, Jointstock at The Joint and The Hot Springs Blues Festival.

Arkansas Times Recommends: DIY edition

Excerpts from our regular series.

A tiny bit of river trail in Little Rock

Mile-long path stops at Dillard's.

Obamacare works

If you read only the headlines you would think that Obamacare is on its last leg, a national train wreck even in Arkansas, where Republicans and Democrats preserved its biggest feature, assured medical care for the working poor.

Correcting corrections, by the numbers

The Broadway Bridge is closing down, a not-so-ideal candidate and more.

Boris and Natasha

One person, one vote

Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin's recent stumbles have revealed quite a story.

Charles Woods plays Markham Street Pub

Also, Bijoux performs at South on Main.

Fayetteville's missed opportunity

In today's polarized political climate, it's rare that any measure gets public bipartisan support. But I thought the University of Arkansas Associated Student Government's proposal to establish an on-campus early voting center would be uncontroversial and easily approved

The Rep goes big with Python parody 'Spamalot'

It's an Arthurian absurdity.

News for the digital era

Arkansas news, clipped and spun for the short-attention-span era.

Daddy and them

Mark, Leslie and Keith.

The Grand Old Flag

The Observer, like nearly everyone else with access to an internet connection, routinely sees our personal lighthouse battered by Hurricane Outrage, which — on a planet where billions of people struggle to find water and a crumb of daily bread — seems more like a tempest in a teapot inside a series of other, progressively larger teapots the longer we weather it.

Soul on Main

Good feel, good food at Memphis export Soul Fish Cafe.

Hogs' first opponent, La. Tech, depleted

Both teams are trying to replace seasoned, and oft-maligned quarterbacks.

Who's robbing whom?

'Hell or High Water' poses the question.


I call jiggery-pokery on the latest column from Sen. John Boozman to constituents entitled "Combating Zika."

Would somebody ask Tim Griffin about Colin Kaepernick?

... Because he seems to have an opinion about everything else and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette is ever ready to indulge him.

Echoes of a dictator: Trump's performance on immigration

A flat, factual recitation doesn't do justice to Donald Trump's two-faced turn on immigration yesterday — a placid photo op in Mexico and a return to red-faced, screaming nativism in Arizona.

KARK-FOX 16: Report of officer-involved shooting

KARK reports police and sheriff's deputies responding to report of an officer-involved shooting on King Road, which I believe is off Highway 365 south of Granite Mountain.

All smiles at Blaze Pizza

Fast-casual pizza joint hits all the right spots.

Arkansas attorney general weighs in on North Carolina law

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge can't be bothered with illegal payday lending in Arkansas, among other pressing business not worthy of her time such as malfeasance of office by Secretary of State Mark Martin in abetting the illegal removal of eligible voters from the voter rolls. But she has plenty of time to pursue a national right-wing agenda.

UPDATE: Casino amendment certified by secretary of state

KARK reports that the secretary of state's office has determined sufficient signatures were gathered to put a casino gambling amendment on the November election ballot.

Speaking of legalized bigotry: Law cited for protection of child abuse

Speaking of Arkansas's so-called religious freedom protection law, passed to protect discrimination against LGBT people. It has other potential ill consequences, such as justification for child abuse.

State Police commander arrested in Fort Smith

A State Police captain in Fort Smith, Steven Bryan Davis, was arrested Tuesday on a misdemeanor loitering charge near a Fort Smith park and has been placed on administrative leave.

Another challenge filed to nursing home damage limit amendment

A second lawsuit was filed today seeking to have the nursing home protection amendment removed from the ballot.

Allegiant Air gets scrutiny on safety issues

This is a big project by the Washington Post on low-cost air carrier, Allegiant Air, which has served Little Rock with routes to tourist destinations.

Thursday's open line and video report

The Thursday open line and video roundup of news and comment.

EPA completes haze reduction plan; Sierra Club hails win for Arkansas

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has completed a plan to reduce haze in the Caney Creek and Upper Buffalo Wilderness Areas caused by emissions from coal-burning power plants.

Department of Arkansas heritage: A work in progress

The Arkansas Times is on record as saying the idea to put columns in front of the new $9.5 million Department of Arkansas Heritage headquarters perhaps erred in its reference to plantation architecture. I took a tour of the building, at 1100 North St., today.

ASU names interim chancellor, retiree from Kentucky

Dr. Doug Whitlock, who retired in 2013 as president of Eastern Kentucky University, has been named interim chancellor of Arkansas State University and will start work Sept. 12.

With more legal marijuana comes less abuse, CDC finds

As states legalize marijuan and its use rises, its abuse — already a low figure — has been falling, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

David Sedaris to visit Robinson Auditorium in 2017

David Sedaris schedules an evening at the renovated Robinson Auditorium next April.

'National Anthem that'

Racial messages on Harrison road signs stir a Twitter reaction in tune with the continuing controversy over Colin Kaepernick's National Anthem protest.

Rural counties defy trend of declining prison population

The New York Times examines an interesting happening: While prison admissions are dropping from urban counties, in part because of efforts to reduce prison populations, many rural counties defy the trend.

At M2 Gallery: Etchings by Artist Laureate Evan Lindquist, paintings by Steve Adair

M2 Gallery opens an exhibit today of works by the state's artist laureate, Evan Lindquist, famed for his calligraphic etchings, and emerging artist Steve Adair, who works in a variety of mediums.

State income lags in August

The state report on tax take in August shows a drop against last year and against forecast.

The ghost of Jeff Gerth: There goes the New York Times again

The New York Times reinvigorates the stench of its Whitewater witch hunt with new reporting on a conservative group's effort to cook up a story out of Hillary Clinton e-mail.

Arkansas hires former Bush Medicaid director

Dennis G. Smith, former head of Medicaid under President George W. Bush, is to become a top Medicaid adviser in Arkansas effective Sept. 15.

UA announces change in chief counsel

Fred Harrison, general counsel of the University of Arkansas for more than 30 years, is stepping down to a part-time position and will be succeeded by JoAnn C. Maxey.

UA Board sets vote on $120 million in stadium bonds

Approval of up to $120 million in bonds for a $160 million expansion of Razorback Stadium is on the agenda for the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday and Thursday in Little Rock.

Rumor control: County garden plots will continue

A friend reported a rumor that the community garden plots rented by the county at Two Rivers Park might be in jeopardy. I'm happy to report that County Judge Barry Hyde's office says there's no truth to the rumor. But ....

The Labor Day weekend line

The Friday open line and week-ending news roundup.

Guilty pleas in Cotton Plant housing authority fraud

The Justice Department announced today that a Des Arc couple, Rhonda Williams, 50, and her husband, Gary Williams, 59, had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and money laundering in taking federally supplied money from the Cotton Plant Housing Authority.

The Labor Day Weekend Edition

The latest in ballot measures, El Dorado and school transfer, a new Medicaid official in Arkansas and Metroplan’s approval of a waiver that puts the highway department one step closer to putting a concrete monstrosity through the heart of Little Rock — all covered on this week's podcast.

State Police commander arrested in Fort Smith has resigned

Capt. Bryan Davis, who'd been a State Police troop commander in Fort Smith, has resigned following his arrest for loitering in a Fort Smith park.

Hog farm resisting testing for potential Buffalo River pollution

The Buffalo River Watershed Alliance said in a court filing Thursday that it had reached a settlement with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality on testing for pollution from the C and H Hog farm at Mount Judea in the Buffalo River watershed. But there's a problem: the farm is resisting.

A Q&A with the Melvins' Dale Crover

Christopher (C.T.) Terry talked with Dale Crover, longtime drummer for the Melvins, who bring their constantly revolving lineup to Little Rock for a show Sept. 13.

Second suit challenges medical marijuana act

A second lawsuit has been filed challenging the initiated act seeking to legalize dispensation of medical marijuana through non-profit outlets.

East Village plan before Little Rock City Board

The Little Rock City Board this week will consider a zoning request for the so-called East Village, the mixed-use development that Cromwell Architects and Engineers plans for three blocks along East Sixth Street at Shall for property including a vacant former paint factory.

Report: Ground shaking in Northwest Arkansas

An earthquake centered near Pawnee, Okla., apparently was felt in Northwest Arkansas about 7 a.m. this morning.

Casino campaign begins on web

The Missouri investor/Cherokee combine looking to put control of three casinos in their hands via the Arkansas Constitution have begun advertising.

The woo pig open line

The open line plus a report on the big wreck in UA game traffic.

StoryCorps animates an account of Sheridan's racial past

StoryCorps, the NPR oral history project, has now produced an animated version of Rev. James Seawood's account of the arrival of school desegregation in Sheridan, Ark. It's getting wide attention on Facebook.

Arkansas's new Medicaid expert's past as Obamacare foe

The news of Arkansas's decision to bring in Dennis Smith, a former top Medicaid official for George W. Bush, included mention of the controversy that marked his tenure as the Medicaid boss for Wisconsin's Republican Gov. Scott Walker. The important part was not a connection to a sexual scandal, but policy.

Medical marijuana: a partisan divide over a simple choice

John Lyon of the Arkansas News Bureau highlights the emerging difference between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party on marijuana. This issue is simpler than it looks from where I sit.

College sports: The rich get richer and students pay for also-rans

The rich, like the University of Arkansas, get richer, while smaller colleges from less powerful conferences struggle to keep up by tapping students and tax money.

Sunday's open line

Here's a chance to pop off.

Email, Hillary, Colin Powell. Echoes of Whitewater

Some journalists have bothered to read the FBI file on the Hillary Clinton email investigation. They conclude Hillary Clinton has been telling the truth. Colin Powell and some in the press haven't done so well.

School voucher camel's nose is in the tent

A Walton Family Foundation-backed operation is overseeing a pilot school voucher program in Arkansas. Is it the camel's nose in the tent for a broader voucher program? Has it proved effective elsewhere? Will it be accountable. The view here is skeptical.

Bruce Hawkins, PAC man, multiplies corporate giving to candidates

Again: Evidence that the so-called "ethics amendment" did little to stop the flow of corporate money to candidates for legislature. One guy controls seven PACs, each giving near the limit to the same candidate. Apparently it's legal. Clearly, the law should change.

Former Parkview coach charged with sexual assault

The Little Rock police announced this morning that suspended Parkview High football coach William Hardiman, 45, has been arrested on a sexual assault charge  following an investigation begun by an anonymous letter to the school principal that said Hardiman had an inappropriate relationship with a student in 2014-15.

The oppressive open line

A hot Labor Day open line, with another killing in Little Rock and Fox News audience unhappiness about black men making news.

History: Before Ted Suhl came to Arkansas, his father was a newsmaker in California

At his federal trial in Little Rock, Ted Suhl testified that his late father, Bud, founded the Lord’s Ranch in 1979 after moving to Arkansas and converting to Christianity. There's more to the story.

Arkansas leaders oppose federal overtime pay rule. Of course

The Southwest Times Records reports here on the lamentations of Arkansas business leaders and politicians about the new federal rule on the pay level at which employees must receive overtime pay. Some of the same people are hungry for government handouts for themselves.

Presidential polling shows tightening race

New polling shows a tightening presidential race, though a giant 50-0state Washington Post poll indicates an electoral college advantage for Hillary Clinton. Arkansas was solid for Donald Trumpo.

Cleaning out the Fox News house

Big news at Fox News: Report is that Gretchen Carlson will get $20 million and an apology for her lawsuit against Roger Ailes and a couple of other settlements with women are in the making.Also, Greta van Susteren, an Ailes defender, has left Fox, effective immediately.

Lawyers ask recusal of Justice Rhonda Wood in nursing home case

A motion filed before the Arkansas Supreme Court asks that Justice Rhonda Wood not hear the appeal of a nursing home damage case because of the campaign contributions made to her campaign by the owner of the nursing home in the case, Michael Morton of Fort Smith. This could have implications for challenges to a proposed constitutional amendment to limit damages in nursing home cases.

Speaking of the Clinton Foundation: Returns in maize and beans

A reporter for Politifact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking organization, sent a reporter to Africa to see where money given to the Clinton Foundation has been put to work. He found tangible results.

Razorbacks enter the ticket resale business

The University of Arkansas announced today that it is getting into the secondary market for tickets to ballgames.

Tuesday's open line and the daily video

Here's the open line and a roundup of news and comment.

Lawsuit challenges marijuana amendment

Now three lawsuits are pending over two competing medical marijuana initiatives.

Real deals: A lobbyist penthouse; new apartments in Quapaw; new use for historic house

A variety of regulatory agencies will be in play as three interesting real estate developments move toward approval, beginning with hearings before committees of the Capitol Zoning District Commission this week.

Ninth guilty plea in fraud in kids' feeding program

The U.S. attorney in Little Rock has announced a ninth guilty plea in the investigation of fraud in the state's operation of a federally financed program to feed poor children meals during the summer.

LR City Board rejects residency rule for cops

The Little Rock City Board did as expected Tuesday on proposals to encourage city residency by city employees. Cops mounted a show of force against making them live in a city they view as dangerous

Lawsuit challenges casino amendment

A group opposing additional casinos in Arkansas asked the state Supreme Court yesterday to disqualify an enabling amendment currently approved for the November ballot.

Independent candidate Evan McMullin finds himself with unexpected running mate

Evan McMullin, an independent conservative candidate for president, has saddled himself with a running mate in several states, including Arkansas, by listing a name as a "placeholder" in filing for office.

Firehouse Hostel & Museum holds grand opening celebration

After nearly 10 years of renovation efforts led by nonprofit Hostelling Arkansas Inc., the 1917 Craftsman-style building in MacArthur Park known as “Fire Station 2” will officially reopen as the Firehouse Hostel and Museum with a free public celebration at noon Sunday, Sept. 18.

UA designs for Conway, Texarkana win national awards

The award-winning University of Arkansas Community Design Center has claimed two more prestigious prizes, these from the American Architecture Awards Program of the Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and the European Centre for Architecture Art and Design.

No decision today on summary judgment in suit against Michael Morton, Gilbert Baker

The Log Cabin Democrat in Conway reports that Judge David Laser heard arguments but made no ruling on  a defense request for dismissal of the civil lawsuit against nursing home owner Michael Morton and former Republican Sen. Gilbert Baker over a $4.2 million reduction in a jury verdict by then-Judge Mike Maggio.

Rocking the vote at the University of Georgia

The University of Georgia will have an early voting location in its student center. Republican officials in Arkansas won't allow the amenity at the University of Arkansas.

Governor announces high school coding competition

Gov. Asa Hutchinson took his computer coding roadshow to Hall High School in Little Rock today and used the appearance to also announce a state competition in coding.

Transgender Arkansas vet heading to NYC for 'Commander in Chief' forum with Clinton and Trump

A transgender veteran from Arkansas will be one of the current and former service members quizzing the candidates tonight at a forum in New York City with presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Juvenile justice and LSU football losses don't mix

A new study finds that juvenile offenders in Louisiana get harsher sentences after unexpected LSU football losses. Black offenders suffer disproportionately.

Coal and electric dollars fuel fight by Rutledge and other A.G.'s against clean air

Here's new material in Think Progress about meetings between coal and electric power officials and state attorneys general a week before nearly all of them, including Arkansas's Leslie Rutledge, joined in a lawsuit to fight a federal effort to reduce polluting greenhouse gases.

Ask the Times: Razorback ticket resale is fair game

Arkansas has a ticket scalping law and a reader asked whether the University of Arkansas can legally sell tickets above face value as it plans to do in a new secondary ticket market it has established for home football games. The answer is yes.

Another Capitol monument proposal from Saline Atheist and Skeptic Society

Another group has emerged with an idea for a Capitol monument to join the forum that would be created if Secretary of State Mark Martin forges ahead with placement of the legislatively approved Ten Commandments monument. A society of "atheists and skeptics" proposes a brick "Wall of Separation."

Wednesday: An open line and video report

Here's the open line and the daily video.

Democrats continue to press Mark Martin on voter purge information

The Arkansas Democratic Party remains unsatisfied with Secretary of State Mark Martin's response to its efforts to find information underlying Martin's decision to circulate a badly flawed list of supposed felons for county clerks to strike from voter rolls.

Baker Kurrus for ????

Baker Kurrus, encouraged by an old friend, gave what may have been his first public speech since ending his time as Little Rock School District superintendent as part of a monthly program at the little Presbyterian Church I attend once and again. Sounds like he might have a future in politics.

B. Barnett boutique to host "Stories in September"

Poet Jo McDougall and novelist/playwright Phillip McMath kick off the first of a literary series to take place in an unlikely venue: B. Barnett, a women’s fashion boutique in the Pavilion in the Park shopping center.